Issue 2, also known as voters first was heavily defeated 63-37, under an avalanche of opposition money seeking to maintain the status quo. Had issue 2 been successful it would have given the ability of voters to pick their representatives, rather than the current gerrymandered reverse situation. Just how bad is the current system of rigged districts? We took a look at the 99 Ohio house races. Our analysis found that despite the Democrats trailing republics in the new legislature 60-39, they actually won the popular vote. Democrats received a total of 2,418,815 votes across the 99 house district and the Republicans only 2,362,310 - over 56,000 less. If districts were apportioned according to the weight of voters actually preference, the Democrats would have a majority of 51-48, not rendered all but impotent trailing 60-39. The current situation is so untenable, even critics of issue 2 agree reforms are needed.
These unfair districts also explain the disappointing results of races involving educators
But a number of GOP critics of Issue 2 also agreed that the current redistricting process needs to be changed. So the big question now is: What happens next? A bipartisan legislative redistricting task force has met a few times and is supposed to recommend changes to the House and Senate in December. Also, some say the Constitutional Modernization Commission should make redistricting one of its top priorities. Catherine Turcer, chairwoman of Voters First Ohio, the coalition that pushed Issue 2, and Ohio State University election-law expert Daniel Tokaji, who helped draft the plan, said that at least there was agreement that the system needs to be changed. “If we all agree that the system is broken, we should also agree that the people of Ohio should not have to wait until 2022 to fix it,” they said in a joint statement. “It’s time to put voters first and come together to agree on a solution.” Gov. John Kasich added: “Reforms need to be considered in a thoughtful, bipartisan way to ensure that districts are competitive and fair and Ohioans’ interests are fully represented.”
A system where the majority of citizens are not represented by their preferred elected leaders is not a sustainable system. The current Ohio General Assembly, and the 130th that will follow it have no mandate from the voters, and their first course of action ought to be to repair the broken redistricting system immediately.
But Stephen Brooks, a political scientist with the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, says all that probably had little to do with the way the races turned out. “They were not in well-designed districts for Democrats to run in so I’m not sure being a schoolteacher or not being a schoolteacher had much to do with that. They were having difficult races because they were running in non-competitive districts, if you will,” he says. The only one of the new teacher-candidates to win is John Patterson, who will represent House District 99 in Ashtabula County. Two other former teachers who were incumbents retained their seats in the Ohio House.